Described by officials as Austin’s first truly comprehensive plan, Imagine Austin will guide the city’s robust growth over the next 20 years. The plan is the result of a two-and-a-half year collaboration among WRT and municipal staff; civic, cultural, and business associations; and the people of the Austin. Austin City Council unanimously adopted Imagine Austin on June 15, 2012.
WRT facilitated the planning process with an integrated service that included community engagement, data analysis, mapping, and implementation planning. Garner Stoll, Assistant Director for Austin’s Planning and Development Review Department was WRT’s lead client for the project. Reflecting on the successful process, Stoll said, “WRT is a delight to work with. They’re very knowledgeable, very experienced, have their feet on the ground, and are flexible. Our staff and their staff developed a strong relationship.”
All of Austin’s advocacy groups and racial and ethnic communities participated in Imagine Austin’s development. WRT Principal, John Fernsler noted that, “The plan is the result of one of the most democratic processes we’ve ever experienced.” Education was integral to meaningful engagement. As WRT Associate Planner, Nancy O’Neill explained, “We gave people the information they needed to enable them to make their own choices.” As a result, Imagine Austin genuinely reflects the ambitions and capacities of the city. Fritz Steiner, a member of the Imagine Austin Citizens Advisory Task Force observed, “The success of the plan is that it’s not viewed as WRT’s plan, it’s viewed as the citizens of Austin’s plan. The community engagement process was time consuming and often frustrating, but the plan is widely viewed as one that was produced by the community.”
Imagine Austin comprises 230 actions organized into eight priority programs. Each program is designed as the responsibility of an existing municipal department. “We involved all relevant city departments in establishing the vision and developing an implementation plan that cuts across departments,” explained David Rouse, WRT Principal. “Working with city staff was critical: successful implementation depends on their buy-in.” Rouse also noted that, “like icing on the cake,” Austin’s recently established Capital Improvement Office will coordinate implementation funding.
An energized Stoll reports, “Now that council has blessed the plan, we’re ready and able to run with it.”
For more information on the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, click here.